clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

WWE SmackDown Live preview (Jan. 23, 2018): Shut it down

Team Blue hits our nation’s capital and tries to follow Raw’s big party with the last show before Sunday’s pay-per-view (PPV).

The Headliners

After a busy day in New York, and a visit with his buddy Mean Gene to remind us he’s defending his WWE championship in a handicap match at Royal Rumble, AJ Styles will try to keep the good times on the ‘go home’ as he gets read to face Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn - or “Kami” - on Jan. 28.

This whole program got some time off last week as the show focused on their secondary men’s title and KO took some time to rest his injured body. From the official program for this episode, it’s not clear we’ll get much more than talking here either.

Which is pretty fitting for a program which has focused on commissioner Shane McMahon and General Manager Daniel Bryan as much as any of the men fighting for the brand’s top prize.

Expect more talking as AJ vows to overcome the odds, Kami complains about their bosses and Shane and Bryan try to keep The Yep Movement in line, and out of each other’s way.

The Title Scene

The big story last Tuesday was the United States title, claimed by Bobby Roode after defeating Mojo Rawley and Jinder Mahal to close out the tournament which began when Dolph Ziggler left the belt in the ring and walked out after earning it himself at December’s Clash of Champions. A lot of folks are wondering when The Show-Off will return, and even what title picture he’ll be a part of when he does, but in the meantime, The Glorious One will tussle with The Modern Day Maharajah again as past of a Six-Man tag with The New Day (presumably Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston, since Big E has action with Team We Don’t Know in Mixed Match Challenge at 10PM Eastern) against Mahal and Rusev Day. So much for the match set-up for The Elated One and Aiden English on “Fashion Files”, but at least we’re getting a mini-League of Nations reunion...?

Heading into a two-out-of-three falls match for the tag team belts at Royal Rumble, Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin’s feud with The Usos gets the singles match treatment. Jey will battle Gable, and some form of injustice will likely occur for Chad to complain about.

The Women’s championship seems to be on hold with an historic Rumble match coming up this weekend, and with it a shot at the title currently held by Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania 34. But the Queen joined former champs Naomi and Becky Lynch to battle Riott Squad last Tuesday, and it didn’t go well for the veterans - especially The Glow-stress. Naomi will be looking for revenge in one-on-one action against The Squad’s Liv Morgan in D.C.

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- There are a lot, and I mean A LOT, of open spots in both the men’s and women’s Rumble matches. Suprises are always a staple of those battle royals, but not 15 -20 of them. We were expecting announcements at Raw 25 and didn’t really get any. Will that change on SmackDown?

- Rawley was impressing a lot of fans with his performances leading into and during the U.S. title tournament. It will be interesting to see how committed WWE is to building off that for The Andre the Giant Memorial winner.

- Tag teams who aren’t in the title hunt, and who weren’t in the United States championship picture, haven’t seen a lot of airtime lately. Wouldn’t expect that to change for acts like Breezango or Bludgeon Brothers tonight, but you never know.

It’s the Royal Rumble ‘go home’ show!

What will you be looking for on SmackDown Live tonight?

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats